I kept meaning to meet our new neighbors, like REALLY meet them. You know, have a conversation, maybe invite them over for wine, show them around the area, etc. Something other than the casual wave in passing. Unfortunately, months went by and the opportunity never presented itself- meaning either my house was a mess or I wasn’t wearing a bra (both of these things have admittedly held me back from a deep and rich social life). However, Ana has struck up an almost obsessive friendship with their 8 year old daughter, Emily. They flutter back and forth between our homes, going from one make-believe game to the next. I can only hope little Emily lacks the critical eye of a child accustomed to fine housekeeping.
Well guess what? I finally met them last Sunday. Let me set the stage for this beauty of a meeting.
A few neighborhood parents & their teens were hosting a weekend fundraising sleepover camp at our clubhouse, sleepover optional. Ana was super excited, so she and I stayed home while Brian and Collin went to the beach. Truth be told, I was the most excited. Ana in camp all weekend, husband and child#1 at the beach. In the days leading up, visions of me slowly walking the aisles of Marshalls while sipping a Starbucks Mocha Latte became all I could think about.
5PM, we arrived at camp. I was almost giddy.
Ana: I’m not staying here. Let’s go home.
I’m not gonna lie, at that moment everything in my world went black.
Reaching out into the darkness, patting the head of the little girl who had just crushed my solace seeking soul, “There there, let’s not be rash. You LOVE everyone here. There’s your babysitter, there’s your friend, everyone’s doing crafts, and they’ll probably order pizza later. And if they don’t I’ll buy out the Dominos down the street and have one delivered to you every hour. How’s that sound?”
Ana: I’m scared. I don’t want to stay here, I want to go home.
Me: You need to be brave and give it a chance. Trust me, you’ll have so much fun! It would be a shame to miss it. What if we leave tonight but try again in the morning?
Ana: I’m not coming back.
Concerned parents were now gathered around. I smiled and said, “Excuse me while I give her some loving words of encouragement.”
Kneeling down, I pulled her pissed off face close to mine and whispered sweetly:
“I swear on Bunny (holding her lovie tightly by the neck) you WILL go to camp or YOU WILL spend the entire weekend in your room. So it’s THIS or staring at your bedroom walls for the next 48 hours.”
Standing up and smiling. “So what do ya think? Feel ready to give it a try?”
She gave it a try, and I went home and listened to the silence until 9PM when it was time to pick her up.
Saturday morning was a thing of beauty! She was thrilled to go to camp, and even said she might stay overnight. I wasn’t holding my breath, but the thought was intoxicating.
After dropping her off, I did my first workout in months, PLYO FIT EXTREME, then I kept the momentum going by cleaning out the foyer closet. It took 4 hours to clean that damn closet. 4 hours, people. foooouuuurrrr hours! It’s not even a big closet (4×4) but it does have some serious height of which I have taken full advantage. Trust me, shit was all stacked up Jenga style. Looking through coat pockets for receipts, I was able to date the bottom layer of crap back to 2005. I even came across a baby tooth…or cat tooth…or broken Tic Tac, I can’t be sure. I just threw it in a memory box and kept moving.
After gathering a very large donation pile, I put everything in the car and headed to my first stop, Marshalls!
As I stepped out of the car, and my legs collapsed like snapped rubber bands, I thought of an important tip:
If you haven’t exercised in months, a workout with the word EXTREME in it might not be the DVD for you. Especially if it’s in all caps.
Holy Crap! It’s like my muscles needed those last 4 hours to really digest what I had done to them, and then they were all like “OH HELL NO! WE’RE SHUTTING THIS SHIT DOWN.” And I was all “No, no, please. We’re done exercising! I just need you to get me to the clearance shoe section and back!”
Bless them, they did. Barely.
I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch watching my legs lock up.
Around 6 PM I received a text from our sitter:
Ana says she wants to stay overnight at camp with me.
I couldn’t believe it, I had the whole evening to myself!
Most of it was spent trying to get up the stairs.
Once I was upstairs, it seemed kinda quiet, like really quiet. Then I realized what it was, Ana’s little crackhead hamsters weren’t on their squeaky wheel. So I checked on them.
Both of them! How the hell…why…both? I sat there examining the scene like a forensic detective. One was inside their little house, while the other laid in the doorway. A domestic dispute? Did Sparkles say he was running out for a pack of cigarettes, but Pinky knew he had no intentions of coming back?
I was beyond upset. Not because they were dead, everyone knew I despised them, but because they died mysteriously while home alone with me.
Know any good lawyers?
I put them in a Ziplock bag with a tiny murder/suicide note and stuck them in the garage. Then I stayed up all night rehearsing the ‘circle of life’ speech I’d have to give Ana in the morning.
I cried as I came down the stairs that morning. No, not because of the hamsters, but because every muscle from my neck down was screaming. Five hundred dollars and 12 years later, my Lamaze breathing techniques finally came in handy.
After picking Ana up from camp, I army crawled into the kitchen and delivered the terrible news. I expected sobs and screams asking the universe to grant her “just one more day with them”. Instead, her reaction was what I’d call underwhelming. Some brief ‘sad eyes’ and then “Can I go play with Emily?”
“Sure. I guess we can bury them later?” And off she went.
Around noon Ana walked in from the garage.
Me: Where’s your friend?
Ana: Oh, she’ll be right back. She just went to show her dad my hamsters.
Me: YOUR DEAD HAMSTERS!?!? NOOOOOO!
I shuffled as fast as I could into the foyer. Through the windows on either side of our door, I saw Emily skipping across our lawn, smile on her face, Ziploc bag full of dead hamsters in her hand, murder/suicide note visible.
“EMILY! COME BACK, COME BAAAAACK!” I screamed through double-pane glass.
She couldn’t hear me and my knees wouldn’t bend beyond a 30 degree angle. So I did the only thing I could do, I put on my bra and waited.
Not surprisingly, it only took 10 minutes before I was meeting our new neighbors.
The dad appeared in my garage and started casually sweeping his eyes around the room, no doubt looking for more dead animals in baggies. The mom stayed a little farther back.
Me: Hi! I’m soooo sorry Ana sent your daughter home with dead hamsters.
Him: Oh, um, don’t…um…don’t worry about it.
Me: It’s just that we haven’t had a chance to bury them yet and she thought they were interesting. She thought maybe you’d find them interesting. I explained to her that we don’t send our friends home with dead animals. I think she gets it now.
Him: Well, they…um… looked peaceful?
Me: Ha. Yeah. Oh, and that murder/suicide note? Just a joke.
Him: Ha…so how did they both die at the same time?
Me: Heyyy, could I offer you both some wine? Or maybe show you around the area?
And now my goal is to convince these people that we’re actually a very normal suburban family. And I think I can do it too….until the day they Google “felt pajamas” and it auto corrects it to “felt vaginas” which will then lead them to this blog.
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